A community campaign has been launched to reopen the birthing unit at Murwillumbah hospital, which closed on Friday after a support doctor could not be found for the service.
An online petition has been set up and a rally organised outside the hospital this coming Wednesday.
Greens north coast spokesperson Dawn Walker has joined the chorus of community members and politicians calling on the state government to step in and stop the Northern NSW Local Health district from closing the service.
Ms Walker has challenged local National Party MP’s Thomas George and Geoff Provest to reverse the decision.
Closure of the unit would mean hardship for local women, Ms Walker said with the unit providing ‘a first rate maternity service for the region.’
‘Many mothers have contacted me distressed about the closure. One mother had all three of her children at the Murwillumbah Maternity and Birthing Unit and only just made it to the hospital in time for the birth of her babies. She said she would never have made the 30-kilometre drive to Tweed Hospital in time.
‘Small rural maternity units are vital services for local regional women and should be supported not closed. It is just plain wrong to cut costs by closing this service and putting mothers and babies at risk.
‘The closure is being blamed on the retirement of local birthing specialists at the end of May, with claims of difficulty attracting replacement medical professionals to the town. However, the Northern NSW Local Health District has now initiated a review of the entire Maternity and Birthing Unit, which is an ominous sign for the long-term viability of the service.
‘I’m disappointed that less than two months after the state election the Nationals are slashing services to our mums and babies – could you get a more vulnerable target for their cost cutting measures. Regional communities like Murwillumbah and surrounding areas, deserve better.’
Lismore MP Thomas George told local media he was ‘disappointed’ at the closure of the service but said the decision had been taken ‘for the safety of mothers’.
He told APN Media he hoped ‘a suitable specialist is appointed at Murwillumbah Hospital soon.’
Meanwhile a community campaign to prevent the closure of unit has been launched, including a rally outside the hospital on Wednesday (May 3) at 10am.
Ms Walker said she will be attending the rally on Wednesday ‘to support these mothers and their babies and asking for this vital service to be reopened.’
Concerned members of the public can also sign an online petition at: